Water always finds its way—fighting nature is laborious, expensive, and unsustainable. Managing stormwater and protecting waterways, the bane of urban planners everywhere, is further complicated by chaotic storms and flooding in this age of climate change. In Sustainable Stormwater Management, author Tom Liptan encourages landscape architects, designers, engineers, architects, and city planners to look to the landscape for innovative solutions to modern urban challenges, using natural systems that have been in place since, well—forever!
The book is divided into two sections. Landscape Stormwater Design begins by laying out fundamental guiding principles that promote a new/old shift in perspective. And it all comes down to putting water in the landscape. Every surface, every parking lot, gutter, and curbcut, every garden, every rooftop is an opportunity to successfully “capture, detain, treat, and transport water in ways that reduce costs, increase environmental benefits, eliminate unnecessary gray (conventional) stormwater facilities, function sustainably over an extended lifespan, and look good while accomplishing these goals.” Liptan fully acknowledges that daylighting water management is a huge paradigm shift from traditional underground piping and storage systems. A radical new solution with roots in antiquity.
The second half of the book looks at Landscape Stormwater Management, or simply put, learning how to think like nature: site assessment, creating vegetative surfaces, channeling water in lieu of irrigation, and minimizing impervious surfaces.
While Liptan began his career in (oh-so-wet) Florida in the late 70s, since 1980 he’s been based in (also-wet) Portland, Oregon. Today he works with the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services where he helps shape city policy and promotes code modifications for a sustainable future. The book is filled with a variety of case studies, both large and small projects, from around the Pacific Northwest as well as further afield.
Sustainable Stormwater Management is a rich resource for landscape professionals and curious homeowners alike. After all, we’re all working with water.
Lorene Edwards Forkner, editor Pacific Horticulture, resides in rainy Seattle.